Sustainability and Environment
Protecting the natural environment is a priority for the hog sector. The pork industry contributes significantly to long term research to monitor the impact of livestock production on the air, soil and water sources. Sustainable production is necessary to long term viability of the hog industry and producers take this responsibility seriously since they live and work on their land and drink the water. Their businesses depend on it!
Hog operations are regulated under the intensive livestock provisions of Saskatchewan's Agricultural Operations Act, 1995. The Act is designed to ensure livestock operations develop and operate in a manner that protects surface groundwater. All intensive livestock operations, regardless of size, are required to ensure that water sources are protected.
In addition to the provincial regulatory requirments, hog production units must meet criteria and approval processes set out by individual rural municipalities where barns are situated. Siting of barns, manure management plans and sensitivity to neighboring communities are all taken into account when production units are approved for construction.
Farmers have long considered neighbours when carrying out necessary agricultural practices. Livestock producers supply neighbouring farms with inexpensive manure fertilizers and further contribute to communities by creating jobs and supporting local events and initiatives. Cultivating goodwill and trust in the community is important for successful livestock farming.
- Practices & Technologies Aimed at Reducing the Environmental Impacts From Hog Production
- Livestock and the Environment Maintaining the Balance
- Site Characterization Manual For the development of Intensive Livestock Operations and Earthen Manure Storage
Saskatchewan is recognized as a leader in the areas of animal care and environmental research:
- Prairie Swine Centre
- University of Saskatchewan Agricultural and Bioresources Department
- Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan
The management of animal mortalities is an important environmental consideration for livestock producers. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture has developed a producer guide with best practices.
Spirit Creek Watershed Monitoring Committee Results
In 2000 public concerns were raised about a multisite hog barn project located in the Spirit Creek Watershed area which included Good Spirit Lake. In response, a 10 member Board, the Spirit Creek Watershed Monitoring Committee was formed led by Don Walters a resident of Spirit Creek. This committee, appointed by then Minister of Agriculture Clay Serby and then reappointed later by Minister Mark Wartman, was a totally independent and unbiased committee that was to “direct and communicate the monitoring of intensive hog development to ensure the sustainability of the environment in the Spirit Creek Watershed”.
The University of Saskatchewan and University of Alberta with funding provided by Saskatchewan ADF and Sask Pork also undertook an additional research project “Community Odour Monitoring Using Local Resident-Observers” to collect data on 3 swine operations in the Rama area. Fifty residents from 39 families living within 5 miles of the three sites were voluntarily trained to monitor odours from 2001-2002 and submit the data. A second project was undertaken with 37 residents participating by recording “odour events” during their daily activities. The objective of the study was to monitor the odour exposure levels in the vicinity of intensive livestock operations (ILOs) relative to frequency, intensity, duration and offensiveness using trained odour-observers.
The Spirit Creek Watershed Monitoring Committee summarized their findings in its October 2006 Five Year Report:
- Spirit Creek Watershed 5 Year Report
- Soil Manure Monitoring Results
- Odour Monitoring Results
- Community Odour Monitoring Resluts
- Assessment of Ground and Surface Water Quality